SAVILE, John, Visct. Pollington (1783-1860), of Methley Park, nr. Leeds, Yorks. and 33 Dover Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1807 - 1812
22 Dec. 1812 - 1826
1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 3 July 1783, o.s. of John Savile†, 2nd earl of Mexborough [I], and Elizabeth, da. and h. of Henry Stephenson of East Burnham, Berks. and Cox Lodge, nr. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. educ. Eton c. 1797; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1801. m. 29 Aug. 1807, Lady Anne Yorke, da. of Philip Yorke†, 3rd earl of Hardwicke, 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. as 3rd earl of Mexborough [I] 3 Feb. 1830. d. 25 Dec. 1860.

Offices Held

Capt. Pontefract vols. 1803, 2nd maj. 1806, lt.-col. commdt. 1808; lt. S. regt. W. Riding yeoman cav. 1811, capt. 1824.


Pollington, who had sat for the open and venal borough of Pontefract with one brief interruption since 1807, was returned there in second place in 1820. Although he had previously acted with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, he had exhibited a growing conservatism at the close of the 1818 Parliament. His changing political allegiance did not help endear him to Robert Peel*, who had a ‘particular dislike’ of him and found him ‘a most singular character with an apparent horror of truth’. Writing to his wife during a visit to Lord Hertford’s, Peel noted that Pollington had been ‘invited here to crow like a cock for the amusement of the party after dinner’.1 He was a very lax attender, who gave silent support to government when present. He was granted three weeks’ leave for private business, 2 June, and returned to divide against economies in tax collection, 4 July 1820. He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and was allowed another two weeks’ leave for private business, 7 May 1821. He voted against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and relieving Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. He presented a Pontefract petition against the hawkers and pedlars bill, 22 Feb. 1823, his only known parliamentary activity for that session.2 He divided against the motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. As in the past, he voted against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. It was said of him at this time that he ‘appeared to attend seldom and to vote with ministers’.3 In February 1826, at his father’s request, he announced his intention of retiring at the next dissolution; the reasons for this are unclear.4

In February 1830 he succeeded his father as 3rd earl of Mexborough, inheriting the Methley estate, £14,000, an unspecified amount in government stock and the residue of personalty which was sworn under £33,000.5 At the general election that summer he offered for Lincoln, where his kinsman Lord Monson had a powerful interest, but he withdrew before the poll because of what he considered to be a scurrilous and vexatious opposition to him.6 He stood again for Pontefract at the general election of 1831, in place of Sir Culling Eardley Smith, the retiring anti-reformer. When challenged on the hustings he maintained that he was ‘friendly to reform’, but he declined to pledge support for the Grey ministry’s bill, observing that this would be ‘like requiring a man who dined at your table to eat a certain dish, the whole dish, and nothing but the dish’. He declared that he would ‘most willingly vote for retrenchment and for lightening the burdens of the people by making the rich bear a greater proportion of the taxes’, but he ‘would not engage to support a measure, the extent of the consequences of which he believed ministers did not see’. He was returned unopposed with a reformer, and immediately left for Cambridge to ‘vote for [William] Peel* and [Henry] Goulburn*’ in the University election.7 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, for use of the 1831 census in determining the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. 1831. His application next day for three weeks’ leave to attend to urgent private business was objected to by Daniel O’Connell, who did not consider it a ‘sufficient excuse’; the House nevertheless agreed to it, 23 Sept. He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He presented a petition from Leeds clergymen against the proposed Irish education reforms, 9 July. He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832. He had hoped to retain his seat at the general election later that year, but reportedly ‘shuddered at being drawn into expense’ and abandoned it.8

Mexborough wrote to Peel in March 1835 requesting that he be given an English peerage, which he claimed George IV had wished to see conferred on his father; the application was refused.9 Between 1830 and 1836 much building work was carried out at Methley, and its cost may have contributed to his ‘pecuniary difficulties’ later in life. He spent his last few years living in a small house on his estate, leaving the hall empty and eventually leasing it to Titus Salt, the Bradford industrialist.10 He died in December 1860 and was succeeded by his eldest son, John Charles George Savile*.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Peel Letters, 57, 61, 62.
  • 2. The Times, 23 Feb. 1823.
  • 3. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 481.
  • 4. Add. 40385, f. 217.
  • 5. PROB 11/1768/187; IR26/1231/51.
  • 6. Leeds Intelligencer, 14, 29 July 1830.
  • 7. Leeds Mercury, 7 May 1831.
  • 8. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 4 Dec. 1832.
  • 9. Add. 40416, ff. 288, 290.
  • 10. N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: W. Riding of Yorks. 366; R.V. Taylor, Biographia Leodiensis, 490; Gent. Mag. (1861), i. 229.